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The perfect Christmas gift for you or a loved one
Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Thinly slice the unpeeled oranges then put them in a saucepan with 400ml/14fl oz water and the sugar. Stir everything around and poach the oranges, covered, over a medium heat for 20 minutes until the pith feels soft when tested with a sharp knife. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin and arrange the nicest poached orange slices (about seven) in the bottom. Strain the remaining orange slices, keeping the poaching liquid. Purée 100g/4oz of the oranges together with 75ml/21⁄2 fl oz of the liquid, to make a smooth mixture (a hand blender is great for this).
To make the cake, mix the flour, baking powder, almonds and poppy seeds together and put aside. Whisk the eggs with the caster sugar until the mixture looks like softly whipped cream. This will take 5-7 minutes. Immediately fold in the orange purée very gently using a spatula, so you don’t knock out all the air.
Fold the dry ingredients into the foamy orange mix, stopping as soon as it’s combined. Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch. Test with a skewer – if it comes out clean from the centre, the cake is cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. When cool, turn the cake out so the orange slices are uppermost.
While the cake is cooling, make the curd. Beat the eggs with the orange and lemon juices, then strain into a bowl. Add the sugar, butter and orange and lemon zest, then place the bowl over a pan one-third full of boiling water. Stir over the heat until the mixture thickens – it’s ready when it thickly coats the back of your spoon (this could take up to 30 minutes, so be patient). Leave to cool.
Cut the cake across twice, into three sections. Brush middle and bottom layers with some of the leftover syrup. Divide the curd between the layers and spread it out, then sandwich all three sections together. Brush the top with more syrup. Let the cake sit for a few hours to allow flavours to develop. It keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge